According to the American Wind Energy Association, more than 120,000 workers across the U.S. have wind-powered careers. The Wind energy sector is currently one of the fastest-growing sectors, which is why Wind energy safety is becoming increasingly more important.
Whether Wind workers are constructing new turbines, refurbishing existing units, or performing general work around windmills, it is critical that safety hazards are not overlooked. In this blog, we’ll discuss the biggest Wind farm-related health and safety concerns, and provide tips and preventive measures that will help reduce the number of accidents on your job site.
Wind Farm Safety Hazards
It’s crucial that Wind energy employees protect their workers from a number of workplace hazards. Some of the most common Wind farm-related safety hazards include:
Falls From Lifts and Cranes
Wind farm workers are routinely hoisted 100 feet or more into the air on lifts and cranes, and the average height of a turbine is upwards of 280 feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. When you add exposure to high winds and inclement weather conditions to the equation, the dangers are exacerbated.
There are a number of different serious electric risks that Wind farm workers are exposed to that can cause critical injuries. These hazards include arc flashes — a type of electrical explosion — shock, falls, and thermal burns. Wind turbines produce excessive amounts of electricity that workers are exposed to.
Working in Confined Spaces
According to OSHA, a confined workspace is one that is large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work is not designed for continuous occupancy and has a limited or restricted means of entry or exit. Wind turbines are low oxygen environments and when workers enter the units, it can cause intense claustrophobia. This may result in serious injuries, as well as expose workers to hazardous gases and toxic vapors.
Wind Energy Safety Tips
Wind technicians face hazards every time they climb atop a wind turbine, which is why every tech should know what tools and fall protection gear to use and how to use them properly. By adhering to these safety guidelines, you can help prevent accidents on your job site:
1. Wear Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
Proper gear and training are key. Wind techs are encouraged to wear rubber electrician gloves, face shields, earplugs, and fire-retardant clothing.
2. Shut Off Hazardous Equipment
Identify the energy source and turn it off. Protect against unexpected energizing, perform work carefully, and make sure the equipment is safe to re-energize before turning on energy slowly.
3. Climb Safely
The climber should be tied off to an anchor point and have three points of contact: two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. This avoids the risk of slipping or falling off the rung.
4. Have First Aid Personnel on Site
There should always be at least one person qualified to administer first aid on wind turbine sites, and all workers performing maintenance must be trained in first aid.
5. Conduct Risk Management and Assessments
Site managers and contractors should ensure that all wind turbine workers are educated about the risks and hazards that can occur on the job by conducting ongoing assessments.
6. Actively Monitor the Weather
Severe weather is one of the greatest threats to wind energy workers’ safety. Site managers should regularly monitor weather forecasts for any extreme conditions.
Get in Touch
At Workrise, quality and safety are our top priorities. We offer more than 200 flexible safety, compliance, and HSE training courses online and in person. Together, we will find the right courses to ensure the workers on your job site meet your requirements.
Let us help you with training, staffing, technology, and professional services so you can get back to focusing on what you do best. Visit our website at workrise.com.
For more information, reach out to our Health, Safety, and Environment team at HSE@workrise.com.